Moslers Legacy Not Lost

A couple weeks ago, we discussed the loss of Murwin Mosler’s work in the form of prints and negatives due to Mosler’s daughter’s home being hit by the May 22nd tornado.  At the time, it was thought that every aspect of Mosler’s legacy had been lost, scattered across the city and Southwest Missouri.  It was recently reported that this was not so.  In an oddly termed “rescue” it was discovered that over 25,000 negatives had not been lost, but instead were actually buried in the rubble of the home.   At present, the negatives  are in the possession of the Joplin Museum Complex for the purpose of being “saved” by the permission of Mosler’s daughter.

What the “saved” process entails is the sorting and categorizing of the negatives, which involves documenting the names of the individual in the photographs that date from 1939 to 1986.  This will be done by the Museum Complex’s volunteers, who museum director  Brad Belk notes in the article, “have never done anything like this…”  and will have to create a database to allow for easy search and distribution.  In the end, Joplin residents who lost photographs might be able to find replacement photographs within this collection.  Belk stated he hoped that the process would take only three months.  We expect this is an optimistic timeline given the lack of experience of the JMC staff, despite having an extensive collection of historic photographs of Joplin.  What the JMC should do is reach out to the State Archives staff that Secretary of State Robin Carnahan has sent to Joplin.   The State Archives have extensive experience in the sorting,  cataloging, restoration and preservation of photographs, particularly those that have suffered damage.

We’re happy to know that the negatives were not lost and an effort will be made to catalog and document this important part of Joplin’s history.  We do hope that when the Mosler collection has been fully cataloged that it’s contents will be made available to the public at large.

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4 Responses to “Moslers Legacy Not Lost”

  • Comment from Sandy

    I have seen the massive amount of envelopes containing the negatives and in some cases, photographs. It is amazing that they survived in reasonably good condition. True, some envelopes are coated in dirt, but I believe the negatives most likely survived in good condition.

    I am one of the volunteers who will be sorting and cataloging and we do have a long row to hoe. The suggestion to contact the archives staff is excellent. I will be interested to see how they can assist us.

    The quick actions of Andy and his family are to be commended. Without them, a significant part of Joplin’s history would have been lost and many families would not have the opportunity to get their photos and negatives back.

  • Comment from Tom Fahrig

    This gentleman’s name was Murwin MOSLER – The epitome of an old-school professional photographer. I was lucky enough to know him and his fine family. His images provide an album of vignettes of everday life in Joplin during the post WWII years; their collective value as a historic document is incalculable!

  • Comment from Brown

    Hi Tom, thank you for the catch on the spelling of Mr. Mosler’s. Somewhere in the type up the poor ‘L’ got lost (now fixed). Thank you as well for offering some insight into him and the importance of his work!

  • Comment from Brown

    Hi Sandy, thank you for the ground level information on the negatives, we hope that row isn’t too hard to hoe! Thank you as well for offering up your free time for such an important task.

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